Dutchess County Victorian

Victorian homes always have the same problem -- the gutters. Because the Victorian era was one of elegance, something as vulgar as the gutter system just had to be hidden from view. To achieve this, the gutters were often boxed in, making them difficult to get to and difficult to maintain.


Rotten gutters and soffits Rotten gutters and soffits
The boxed in gutters were rotten after decades of not being properly maintained (click to enlarge)

Even though it may have made sense when it was built, over time you begin to see the holes in the logic. Literally. Water + wood + impossible to maintain = soggy, rotten gutters that are eaten through and ready to collapse. This Victorian beauty set in the heart of the country was no exception.


Gutters removed Stripping the roof
Once the gutters and soffits had been removed, we could begin taking down the brackets and stripping the slate (left). Midway through stripping the roof (right) (click to enlarge)

The thing about replacing the gutters on Victorian homes is, if you're going to replace those, you might as well replace the roof, too. And since you're replacing the roof, why not rebuild the chimneys while you're up there? The whole system is connected, and if you're going to be taking it apart anyway, you might as well improve it before putting it back together. We began by removing all of the old slate, soffits, brackets and gutters.


Three chimneys Completed chimney
The three chimneys in various states of being rebuilt (left). One of the three completed chimneys (right) (click to enlarge)

The three chimneys on the house were nearly ready to collapse, so they were torn down to just below roof level. Normally we try to rescue and re-use as many parts of a house as we can when doing restorations, but because the new chimneys were going to be receiving a coat of paint, we knew we had to use new, hard bricks when rebuilding them. Once rebuilt, we flashed the chimneys in with zinc to ensure that no water would leak under the roof and into the house.


Installing the gutters Replicated brackets
The gutters were rebuilt (left) using restored and or replicated brackets (right) (click to enlarge)

After the rubber was laid down on the roof, we could begin rebuilding the gutters. We restored as many of the brackets as we could, but some were too far gone to be re-used, and so we had them replicated exactly. All of the gutter leader heads were replaced with brand new zinc ones, everything was once again boxed in, and the restored or replicated brackets were reinstalled around the roof.


Laying slate Slate detail
Laying down the new slate roof (left). This beautiful slate was sourced from Spain and closely matched the slate that was originally on the house (right) (click to enlarge)

We laid down new slate, sourced from Spain, that closely matched the look and texture of the old slate roof tiles.


Removal All the windows

Before restoration During restoration
All elements of the dormer windows were removed and restored (click to enlarge)


We also removed and restored all of the dormer windows. Once removed, we brought them to our workshop up in Athens where we stripped the wood, primed it with linseed oil and then applied painted. Any broken or missing panes were replaced with salvaged period glass. The pulleys were replaced with sash balances as the cavities that once held the pulleys were now full of insulation.


Almost done
Putting on the finishing touches (click to enlarge)

The boxed in gutters on this Dutchess County home are now not only as romantically elegant as the Victorians intended, but functional, too.

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